Donald Trump has been permanently banned from social media platform Twitter last week following his supporters’ storming of capitol hill. The site stated that the ban was to halt the possibility of “further incitement of violence” from the president.
Twitter wasn’t alone in this decision, other social media platforms and corporations that have banned the president include Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube, Apple, TikTok, Reddit, Snapchat, Shopify, and Pinterest.
With over 88 million followers on Twitter alone, it was a huge platform for him throughout a presidency that is now coming to a bitter close. It was an indispensable line of communication from him directly to his supporters, one that he is now desperately derived of. Many on the left are delighted at the news of this social media blackout, but there is a bigger picture being overlooked.
Social media oligopolies should not wield the private power to be judge, jury, and executioner on the modern mainstage of political discourse. Silicon Valley has been under public pressure for years to crack down on hateful, violent and false speech on their platforms to no avail. Congressional hearings were political theatre attempting to display that the government had some sort of say on big tech, but events since have proved exactly the opposite.
CEOs like Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook possess political power that often supersedes that of elected officials. They can permanently mute the highest office in the land from the most prominent social spheres on the planet, instantly.
The left must realize that neoliberal censorship has and will flow our way as well. Capitalists like Dorsey and Zuckerberg have an unchecked authority in the realm that can make or break our movement. Whether they are censoring those on the right or the left, they are doing so in pursuit of self-interest which lies in direct conflict with that of the working-class.
This is not to say that nobody should be banned from these platforms and that free-speech absolutism shall reign, but rather that these decisions should not be in private hands. Regulation and slaps on the wrist will not be sufficient either, technology conglomerates must be completely nationalised if they are to be reined in and held accountable to the public will.
Amongst their outrage, sections of the right have unknowingly taken up the socialist position in this regard, with many Trump supporters calling for the breaking up of big tech since the ban. This may prove to be a prime opportunity to unite working people in a time so heavily riddled with divisiveness if the left so chooses to take it up.